Bumblebee Parent Guide
The best of the often tedious "Transformers" franchise, "Bumblebee" exceeds expectations by improving dialogue and character development.
Parent Movie Review
After the fall of Cybertron (home planet of the Transformers) to rogue elements known as Decepticons, Bumblebee (voiced briefly by Dylan O’Brien) is sent to Earth to lie low until the rest of the justice-seeking Autobots can reassemble and fight back. While there he encounters Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenage outcast and mechanical enthusiast, who finds and repairs him. With her help, Bumblebee tries to stay hidden both from the government and from the Decepticons who have arrived on Earth to hunt him and the other Autobots down.
Parental concerns with this film will be quite limited. Unlike other entries in this franchise, there is no sexual content (including crude jokes), and violence is almost solely between Transformers. Humans are rarely harmed. The language is also considerably milder, with profanities being both fewer in number and milder in content than in past films.
Viewers familiar with the Transformers franchise might expect Bumblebee to share the weaknesses of the other films - irritating plots and bloated runtime. The only film I have ever fallen asleep to while in a theatre was Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), which had me attending this movie with very little enthusiasm. Fortunately, Bumblebee is, by comparison, the best of the bunch. This may sound like I’m saying it’s the best plague rat in the sewer, but Bumblebee manages to exceed expectations. Unlike previous Transformer films, the dialogue is almost sensible. Characters in conversation don’t just blurt the random crudities which past writers and directors seem to have mistaken for comedy. The chaotic robot fighting is a much smaller part of the runtime and has been replaced with personal development and attempts at emotional moments.
That said, this is definitely still a Transformers movie, and if you don’t have the patience for giant space robots that turn into cars (or planes, or helicopters, etc.), then you won’t like this one any more than the other films. The film seems to think that it can replace a lot of character personality with a (remarkably decent) playlist of 80s hits. More irritatingly, the entire film seems to be about 15% too dark. Maybe it was just a problem with the 3-D calibration on the projector in the theatre I was in, but it felt like I was watching the entire movie through sunglasses.
If, however, you can stomach all that, then this will go down a lot easier than, for example, Transformers: The Last Knight. If your child is an enthusiastic fan of the series, this is the movie you can take them to without worrying about passing out in the middle. Added to which, it’s shorter, smarter, and less smug than the others. The movie isn’t perfect, but considering where it comes from, it’s made a lot of progress.Directed by Travis Knight. Starring Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Travis Knight. Theatrical release December 21, 2018. Updated December 21, 2018
Watch the trailer for Bumblebee
Rating & Content Info
Why is Bumblebee rated PG-13? Bumblebee is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sequences of sci fi action violence
Violence: Frequent robot fistfights throughout. Two people are shot with a transformers weapon and explode into pink slime. Robots are stabbed, shot, punched, and blown up, usually with little consequence.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: Some use of profanity in the “mild” category, two uses of profanity in the “moderate” category.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None
Page last updated December 21, 2018
Bumblebee Parents' Guide
Charlie struggles to come to term with her changing family dynamics following the death of her father. How can we help people who have suffered the loss of close family or friends?
When Charlie meets Bumblebee, he is scared and alone. How can we improve our ability to reach out to people who are shy or frightened or alone?
Read books about Bumblebee
Interested in the iconic Volkswagen Beetle? Teens will likely enjoy the non-fiction book Thinking Small: The Long, Strange Trip of the Volkswagen Beetle by Andrea Hiott which is the story of the Beetle and the people who created it.
Karen Romano Young’s novel The Beetle and Me: A Love Story tells the story of another girl in love with a VW Beetle. Daisy Pandolfi is 15 years old and is determined to rebuild her parents’ purple 1957 Beetle. This is a story about a girl’s love for her car, her family, and a boy.
Teens intrigued with robots might enjoy Cinder by Marissa Meyer, the story of a cyborg (part human, part robot) named who becomes involved with both a handsome prince and an intergalactic struggle.
Small children will giggle as the hero of Raybot by Adam F Watkins, comes to earth searching for a dog, only to encounter other types of animals. Preschoolers will revel in the rhymes found in Sue Fleiss’ brightly illustrated Robots, Robots Everywhere!.
Older kids and teens with an interest in humanity’s place in space will enjoy Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.
I, Robot is a classic of science-fiction. Written by legendary sci-fi author, Isaac Asimov, this collection of short stories features robots in settings that brim over with Asimov’s ideas about robots and the future.
News About "Bumblebee"
Fans who have anxiously followed the Transformer movies will be pleased to know that as of July 31, 2017, Paramount Pictures, in association with the HASBRO toy company, has begun shooting the next film in the franchise.
The spin-off movie will be called Bumblebee and will provide more backstory for the Autobot known by that name. Featured as a yellow Camaro with black stripes in the 2007 Transformers movie, the car/robot morpher will inhabit a yellow VW bug in this film, set to release on December 21, 2018.
Bumblebee is one of the most beloved characters in the series, with his kid-like antics, personable nature and tendency to add a dash of humor to the more serious moments in the movies when the Autobots battle their enemies, the Deceptions. He will be played by John Cena, a WWE Superstar turned actor, who will likely bring a little more "tough-guy" to the part.
The script will take viewers back to 1987 in California, where an almost eighteen-year-old girl named Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) finds and tries to restore the battered car. Of course, she is about to discover there is a lot more to the VW bug than she at first thought! Soon after she is bound to get dragged into the fugitive’s struggle. And she will undoubtedly end up in the middle of the war raging between the galactic foes.
Even though the movie is based on a kids’ toy and stars a juvenile character, we predict the film will get the same PG-13 rating it’s predecessors received – meaning the depicted violence will likely be more appropriate for teens than youngsters.
The live-action/computer animation mix will also share the same producers as past ventures, Michael Bay and Lorenzo di Bonaventura. The screenplay for Bumblebee will be written by Christina Hodson and Travis Knight will sit in the director’s chair.
From the Studio: On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug. Written by Paramount Pictures
Related home video titles:
If you are looking for a film with similar themes that is suitable for young children, try G-Force. In this live-action film, guinea pig secret agents hunt down a villain with transformer-type plans.
The Iron Giant (1999) and E.T. (1982), which this movie has excessively borrowed from, are both phenomenal movies in their own right. Both feature children befriending an alien “other” who falls from space and confront shady government forces seeking to harm them. 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope also features a protagonist whose life is changed when he adopts robots that fall in from space.
Viewers who haven’t seen previous Transformers movies and want to start at the beginning should watch Transformers (2007).